What goes up, must come down.
That’s the phrase right? Just like many things in life, the Jazz have found themselves relatable to this simple saying in the last week of NBA basketball.
The Jazz are on a three-game losing streak, and a bit of a painful one at that. They dropped a tough road game against the Bradley Beal-less Wizards Saturday night, surrendering 54 combined points to Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma. This loss snapped a four-game winning streak, and after four great wins, it was easy to rule this loss as being past due and a tough battle. They then went to Philly on a back-to-back, and allowed Joel Embiid to have one of the most insane single-game performances that we’ve see in NBA action in a long time. A 59/11/8/7 stat line and 27 points in the fourth quarter for Embiid were brutal to watch as a Jazz fan.
Losing their first game at home against the Knicks last night and getting outscored badly in the fourth quarter, completed the three-game losing streak, and the first sad boi hours of the 2022-23 Utah Jazz season.
Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson, who have been the Jazz’s top two scorers so far this season, have both failed to reach 20 points in three straight games. Clarkson, who had been shooting a good three-point clip until the last three games, is 7/26 (26%) during the current losing streak. Mike Conley, who was having career numbers in several different categories, has scored 16 points cominbed in the last three games, shooting 5-25 from the field and 2-15 from three. The fact that these three players have had their worst games of the season, almost directly tells you why the Jazz have lost these games.
That being said, is it okay to say that the Jazz have officially “come back down to Earth”? Or is this just a ill-timed shooting slump from their best players? Might be a bit of both. The Jazz are not going to end the season as the #1 seed in the Western Conference, which is where they sat just last week. But they have shown that they are going to be better than everyone thought they’d be. Coming back down to Earth, for me, is still a really good place and much better than an obvious tank-job that some of us thought we were going to see. Down to Earth might be the sweet spot that the front office had in mind, by competing in games, having an enjoyable basketball product, but still maintaining value in their own draft pick position.
Much like Danny Ainge, Jazz fans have felt “pleasantly surprised” by the Jazz this year, just with the level of effort and intensity that these players play with. I still think they are good enough to be a playoff team. Lauri Markkanen has shown that he’s made a jump. Jordan Clarkson has been a different player than in years past. Mike Conley has been great. The role players do their jobs and bring effort and intensity. This team, despite them not having any business being a playoff team, seems like they are fighting to be one, which is really respectable. The fans have responded to their energy, and they will have the team’s back as they continue to fight through the ups and downs of a really weird season.